The changing nature of society requires that workers must gain new skills, new understandings, and new knowledge throughout their lives. This is due to the evolving societal need to produce the best products to ensure its citizens have only the finest material items that ensure a maximum quality of life and leisure. To achieve societal demands workers must continually invest in their educational knowledge and self-improvement activities.
Because of today’s societal demands, the first two decades of a person’s educational life (K-12 and some secondary education) does not adequately prepare one with working skills for a lifetime. Advances in technology and base knowledge make the requirement for continuing education essential. Lifelong learning helps adults cope with the rapid increase in required worker skills and knowledge.
Why Society Demands Continuing Education
Few adults remain in one career field their entire lifetime and even if they remain in one field, they must continually update their knowledge and skills. Most adults have more than one career during their lifetime, primarily due to changing career interests and obsolescence of jobs. This typically occurs because of advances in technology and understanding of new ways to do things.
For adults, continuing education is ongoing because of the need for frequent current career training or retraining for a new career. Examples are:
Adults who work in the health industry must constantly update their knowledge and skills to remain proficient.
- Adults who work in many of the repetitive operation careers are routinely eliminated by advances in technology. Example – the number of bank tellers is declining to the rapid increase in online banking.
- A not-so-surprising factor in societal demands is the low level of educational achievement in the United States. The declining high school graduation rate has lead to many individuals entering low-come potholes that are difficult to escape according to “The Declining High School Graduation Rate” by J.J. Heckman [VoxEU, February13, 2008].
For adults in this situation, the only way out is through continuing education programs. Simply earning a General Education Diploma (GED) does not help them out of the low-come trap. They need to progress onward to earning advanced education certificates or degrees.
Societal continuing education needs demand that adults must understand their rights when purchasing products and services, be involved in community action, and help solve local problems. Only continuing education can help adults build confidence in their life skills and civic requirements.
How to Overcome Obstacles to Continuing Education
Adults face many obstacles for continuing their educational goals and needs. However, obstacles to education for supporting career needs or changing career needs exist. Common obstacles to continuing education, with strategies for overcoming them include:
Finding the Money to Pay for School
All colleges and technical schools offer various forms of financial assistance. Schools offer assistance in obtaining Federal aid, Stafford student loans, student grants, work study programs, student assistantships, on campus employment opportunities, and more. Many employers offer tuition assistance for attending college courses. Do not be afraid to seek your fair share of this money.
Concern with Fitting in a College Lifestyle
Many adults who want to attend college feel that they will not fit in with younger students. This is a myth that must be overcome, because in reality the number of students over the age of 25 attending college is almost equal to those under 25. Adults going back to school and fitting in provides additional examples of these myths and how they are overcome.
Attending Classes on a Regular Basis
Attending school on a regular basis is essential for learning and passing course requirements. For those who cannot afford to quit their full time job, distance education provides the flexibility to fit anyone’s work and life commitment schedule. The advantages of distance education for adults provide additional information about how to overcome this obstacle.
The ever-changing societal needs of this country place a strain on adults as they blaze their path though life. Continuing education is in the forefront of societal needs because of the rapid changes in technology, worker knowledge, and worker skills. Often adults fall into a self-made pothole of not keeping up with their educational needs for a variety of reasons. However, the obstacles to escaping the rut can be overcome. Ten tips for adults who are going back to school offers additional resources in overcoming obstacles continuing education needs.